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Wong v. Wong

California Court of Appeals, First District, First Division

December 13, 2019

James WONG, as Personal Representative, etc., et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents,
v.
Aaron WONG, as Personal Representative, etc., et al., Defendants and Appellants.

         [256 Cal.Rptr.3d 625] Trial Court: San Mateo County Superior Court, Trial Judge: Hon. Susan Greenberg (San Mateo County Super. Ct. No. 17CIV05074)

Page 359

         COUNSEL

         Hopkins & Carley, Allonn E. Levy, San Jose, Steven P. Braccini, Palo Alto, Ryan D. Cunningham, Palo Alto, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton, Karin D. Vogel, San Diego, Steven P. Braccini, Palo Alto, Valerie E. Alter, Los Angeles, for Defendant and Appellant.

         Parr Law Group, Eric J. Sidebotham, Santa Clara, Law offices of Russell J. Hanlon, Russell J. Hanlon, San Jose, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          OPINION

         Humes, P.J.

Page 360

          Defendants Aaron Wong and Tianqi Liu, as personal representatives of the Estate of Sylvia Tang and co-trustees of the Sylvia Tang Trust

Page 361

(collectively, the Tang Estate), appeal from a trial court order denying a special motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16.[1] The Tang [256 Cal.Rptr.3d 626] Estate brought the motion after plaintiffs James Wong and Irene Wong, as personal representatives of the estate of Alan Wong (collectively, the Wong Estate), sued under a contractual agreement to be indemnified for the costs the Wong Estate incurred in defending against a separate lawsuit brought by a company the Tang Estate controls. The Tang Estate claims the court erred by concluding that the instant case does not arise from its protected activity of litigating the other lawsuit. We disagree and affirm.

          I.

          FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

          Sylvia Tang (Tang) and Alan Chung Cheung Wong (Wong) married in 1999 and divorced in 2011. During their marriage, Wong held a 48.5 percent interest and Tang held an 11 percent interest in Asian Square Inc. (Asian Square), which owns and operates Grand Century Mall in San Jose. On December 31, 2011, Tang and Wong entered a marital settlement agreement (settlement agreement) that resolved several disputes, including the division of assets and debts. The couple’s divorce judgment, which was based on the settlement agreement, was filed on May 17, 2013, and entered nunc pro tunc as of December 31, 2011.

          The settlement agreement contains two indemnity provisions. First, section 1.7 provides that "as and for an equalizing payment," Wong will transfer to Tang "100% of his 48.5% interest in Asian Square ..., subject to all liabilities attendant thereto, for which [Tang] shall assume sole and separate responsibility and shall indemnify and hold [Wong] harmless from any liabilities attendant thereto." Second, section 2.1 provides, "If either party has incurred or does incur, on or before the effective date of this agreement, any liability not disclosed and listed in this agreement on which the other is or may become personally liable or that could be enforced at any time against an asset held or to be received under this agreement by the other party, that warrantor will fully indemnify the other with respect to the obligation, including, but not limited to, any and all liability on the obligation, attorney fees, and related costs."

         Wong died in June 2013, and Tang died that August. Wong did not transfer his Asian Square shares to Tang ...


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